Roundtable: Who will finish strong?
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Each day leading up to National Signing Day, Rivals.com's analysts will convene at the Recruiting Roundtable and debate a current recruiting topic.
Today's question: What program did you expect to pick it up in recruiting and it just hasn't happened?
Mike Farrell, National, Mid-Atlantic: Oregon. They always seem to close strong and I don't see that happening this year. It will take a small class this year, but to be a national title contender each year with the amazing facilities they have, I would expect top 15 and not outside the top 30.
Adam Gorney, West: After landing three five-stars, including the No. 1 player in Robert Nkemdiche last recruiting cycle, it looked like Ole Miss was going to be an unstoppable -- and improbable -- force in SEC recruiting with coach Hugh Freeze leading the way and then the assistant coaches cleaning up top talent. The Rebels have come back to Earth a little bit this recruiting cycle. They've done a great job landing some top defensive players, especially on the line, but there are no five-stars in this class, only six four-stars and Ole Miss is ranked ninth in the SEC by Rivals.com. Five-star WR Malachi Dupre is visiting Ole Miss and Freeze might have some surprises up his sleeve, so things aren't wrapped up just yet.
Adam Friedman, Mid-Atlantic: Maryland had a great chance to get a very solid group of recruits this year. Its efforts were hurt because its season was sabotaged yet again by injuries after a fast start. There was a plethora of talented players in the Washington D.C. area this year and they had a chance at Jalen Tabor, D'Andre Payne, Melvin Keihn, Jared Cohen, Cameron Phillips and many others. If they don't get Damian Prince, it will be hard for Maryland fans to look at this class and not think about what might have been.
Jason Howell, Midlands: Oklahoma is one program that jumps out. Of course, the Sooners picked up a huge boost when five-star Joe Mixon jumped on board at the Army All-America Bowl, but the class, while solid, is a little down at this point. Oklahoma is currently ranked No. 2 in the Big 12, but is No. 19 in the country. To put that in perspective, the Sooners have not finished outside the top 15 in the history of Rivals.com. The good news is there is still time to close and Oklahoma is in good position with some top notch talent. The Sooners are fighting hard to keep Rivals100 safety Steven Parker in-state, and Rivals250 standouts Deondre Clark and Michiah Quick are also thinking hard about heading to Norman. Closing on those guys would definitely give the class a nice boost.
Woody Wommack, Southeast: Based on the season they had, one can look at Missouri as a school that hasn't seen its on-field success carry over into recruiting. Normally the biggest impact from a year like Missouri had is seen the following year, so that's the big caveat here, but for a team that wants to get back to the SEC championship, it's clear recruiting is going to have to trend upward to maintain that level of success.
Josh Helmholdt, Midwest: With how hard Illinois' staff works on the recruiting trail, I'm surprised they are not faring better in Tim Beckman's third year. Illinois is regularly one of the first offers in for prospects across the Midwest, and they have worked hard in key Midwest population centers like Chicago, Cincinnati and Cleveland. Yet, they are barely holding onto 10th place among Big Ten classes and rank 63rd nationally in 2014 with zero four or five-star prospects committed.
Rob Cassidy, West: TCU's move to the Big 12 has long since taken hold, but it hasn't come with a jolt in recruiting. That, of course, can be tied to the program's lack of success in its new conference. Still, TCU is located in a metropoltain area and has a vibrant campus life. Combine those things with the school's semi-new tie to a power conference and the reputation of Gary Patterson, and you'd think the Horned Frogs would be ranked higher than 60th in the recruiting rankings. It's some combination of on-field success and tangible fan support holding Patterson back on the recruiting trail. The fact that his program lost a few key commitments in recent months hasn't helped, either.
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